I haven’t yet seen a review on a Christmas Jubilee with the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five, and so I thought I’d write one so anyone who may be on the fence to spend the money for tickets to this event can have more information.
I was able to catch the ‘10th Christmas Jubilee’, as they said from stage, on Sunday, December 8th. IMC Concerts promoted the concert in Sacramento, which is about 100 miles from my home. But hey, with these three high-powered groups, I convinced myself that it had to be a good concert.
First, let me preface everything I’m about to say with this statement: I’ve never been a “Jubilee” fan. Really. Don’t get me wrong. I was one of the two original Greater Vision fans out here in California that helped convince a promoter to get them and then Greater Vision to come out to the West Coast. Legacy Five has been my wife’s favorite group since they began, and I love their music in addition to being good friends with the band. Also, I’ve been a huge fan of the Booth Brothers ever since I heard them sing, “This Love is Mine,” and that love for their music hasn’t ever diminished. That said; the Jubilee CD’s have never been my cup of tea. The CD’s I have and the concerts I saw were good, but for me they were just not up to the level of each group’s individual efforts in the studio or on stage. Yes, I’m a pretty critical guy when it comes to music, but that’s who I am and always will be.
I say all this above to point out that I went into the concert very skeptical of what I would get. I was literally thinking as I found my seat before the concert, “Ok, Gerald, let’s see what you’ve got.”
Then Gerald and the gang knocked it out of the park! The Christmas magic really made this concert a special event, one that’s now probably in my top 10, maybe top five concerts of all time. And I’ve been to a lot of concerts.
They started out singing all together with a Carol Medley, and it was followed by some new Christmas music. Hearing this introduction really got me in the mood for the rest of the concert, a evening of classic Christmas songs as well as new Christmas songs. Here are some of the highlights of the concert:
“Our Twelve Days of Christmas”: Gerald introduced this song rightly, by saying that most people can’t stand the song because it’s so long and monotonous. So they re-wrote it! And believe me, this song was the most fun of the night. They really sold the new lyrics, and the accompanying screen graphics made the song really go over well (hat tip to Ben Wolfe).
“Carol of the Bells”: This was performed a cappella and was the highlight of the night. If all you do is pay for your ticket, sit down for this song and then walk out, you will have received your money’s worth. The arrangement was just amazing and by the time they hit the end, it was a feeling of euphoria all over the building. Just amazing. It was that moment you go to a concert to see/hear, and I’ll never forget it.
“O Holy Night”: Here’s the song I expected Gerald to sing. Instead, they went with the Legacy Five’s arrangement of this song, which is my personal favorite arrangement. It started with Trey Ivey playing on the piano, then Legacy Five singing the second verse, and then… Well I won’t spoil it, but it brought the house down right before intermission. Another moment. It’s rare to get two of these in a concert, much less the first half.
“White Christmas”: This is usually a great song on its own. But it’s also a time when Scott Howard introduces the audience to his Redneck Snowblower. All I can say is that I’ve never laughed that hard in the middle of any Christmas song. And my six-year-old son will probably never stop talking about it. Some people say they’re “Gonna make it rain”. Well, Howie can now say he’s “Gonna make it snow.”
“Celebrating Christmas”: Ronnie Booth did his Elvis thing to this old Carmen song and he did it perfectly. But what really made it great was the Sweet Inspirations backing him up. Michael, Rodney, and Howie – ‘nuff said.
“Finale”: This wasn’t one of those bring the house down finales. They took the last cut from the Cathedrals A’Capella Christmas album in the 1980s and sang that as a benediction, if you will. It was beautiful and completely preserved the magic and overall precious feeling of the Christmas concert.
There were other highlights, such as Rodney’s special instrument, Michael Booth’s crazy antics as well as his down-to-earth message to the audience, and Gus Gaches and Chris Allman doing incredibly well on their solo songs. I really liked when Trey did his Classical Christmas song, where he takes a Christmas carol and mixes it with a Sonata. You may have seen something similar in a Legacy Five concert. I really enjoyed how the Jubilee gang responded in very comical manner. Gerald and Howie’s back-and-forth was hilarious during and after Trey’s song. I can’t describe it; you just have to see it to appreciate it.
After three hours of incredible music, I could say that my cup was overflowing. The guys didn’t need to come off the stage and spend an hour meeting with the folks after the last song; the folks already loved them by the time we said ‘Amen’. But they stuck around anyway talking to countless people and that’s one of the reasons I love this music so much. You won’t see Demi Lavato or Tim McGraw doing anything like that. I love the family feeling of Southern Gospel Music.
Like I said above, this is one of my all-time favorite concerts. If you’re on the fence about checking this event out, stop wrestling with the decision. GO! And if you’re not interested at all and just happen to read this, GO! If you’re fan of Southern Gospel music, Christmas music, or music in general, GO! Don’t make a mistake of missing this event. Here’s hoping they do it again next year!